Famous New Zealanders

Valerie Adams

Early Life

Valerie Adams was born on 6 October, 1984, in Rotorua. She first began competing aged 14, after taking part in a school competition and being seen by Kirsten Hellier, later her coach. Her Tongan mother died from cancer when Valerie was 16. Her father was an Englishman who settled in New Zealand. He had 18 children. Valerie’s brothers average 2.06m and her sisters average 1.83m in height.

1999 - 2004

In 1999 she competed in her first World Youth Championships, finishing in tenth place. Two years later in 2001 Valerie won gold at the World Youth Championships in Hungary. In 2002 Valerie was first in the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Kingston, Jamaica, throwing 17.73m and then went on to win silver at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, with a throw of 17.45m.

Valerie attended her first Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, just a month after being operated on for appendicitis. In the qualifying rounds Valerie finished in ninth place, missing the cut for the final. One of the finalists later failed a drugs test, which brought Valerie into eighth place.

Valerie married New Caledonian discus thrower Bertrand Vili in late 2004.

In December 2004, Valerie (now Vili) broke Val Young’s New Zealand record of 17.26m, which Young threw at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Valerie threw 19.29 m, becoming the first New Zealand woman to break the 19 metre barrier.

2005 - 2007

Valerie came third in the 2005 world championships in Helsinki with a throw of 19.62 m, and in January 2005 was named Athlete of the Year by Athletics New Zealand. She was also nominated for the Halberg Sportswoman of the Year award.

Heading to the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in March 2006, Valerie was ranked at no. 2 in the world. Before the games, she threw a personal best of 20.20m at the national track and field championships in Christchurch in January 2006, setting new Oceania and Commonwealth records. In Melbourne, Valerie was well ahead of the field, throwing a winning distance of 19.66m in the second round to take the gold medal.

Valerie has held a job as assistant sports coordinator at Macleans College since 2003, finding it balances well with her training. She was coached for many years by Kirsten Hellier who was a Commonwealth Games javelin silver medallist. Hellier says that Valerie is the perfect natural athlete for the shot put, with the strength and physique (she is 6 ft 4 in tall), an amazingly competitive temperament, and the mental ability to perform well.

Olympic Gold and more

In 2008 Valerie Adams won the gold medal in the shotput at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Vili won the Supreme Halberg Award for the third time in 2009 — the first woman to do so. Her achievement is only matched by rower Rob Waddell.

In 2010 she won the gold medal in the shotput at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and set a Games record mark of 20.47m.

In the same year Valerie divorced Bertrand Vili and resumed her maiden surnmame, Adams.

In 2012, Valerie competed at the London Olympics and won the silver medal in the shotput with a throw of 20.70m. She was later awarded the gold medal when Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus failed a drug test and was stripped of her gold medal.

In 2013 Valerie's half-brother Steven Adams who is 2.13m tall was 12th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He had been playing college basketball in the United States and is now with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In 2013, Valerie Adams won a historic fourth World Championship making her the most successful shot putter in history.